Sep 27

Bonaire, Post Five: The Wreck of the Hilma Hooker

Category: Bonaire,scuba,Travel

There is one publicly accessible wreck dive on Bonaire – the Hilma Hooker.  We were told a fascinating story about this wreck: that it was used for drug smuggling, and was impounded by authorities on Bonaire a fter its crew of three (for a ship of this size, incredible!) anchored it in the wrong place because they were having “technical difficulties.” Soon, it sank under mysterious circumstances, and after some hand-wringing, it was decided to leave it there and prep it for divers.  So it looks like an intentionally sunk artificial reef, but it’s a little more than that.

It’s a large vessel – a bulk cargo carrier, perhaps 250 feet long.  It sits on the bottom at about 100 feet, almost capsized, on its starboard side.  There’s not much growth on it, but it is fun enough, and sits right next to a great reef extending upwards from 90 feet to the shallows.  This means that instead of wasting your time rising up through the water column, you can leave the wreck after, say, using up a third of your gas, and spend a nice relaxing long time exploring the reef as you outgas nitrogen.  My dive was a little over an hour, but I had enough gas for half again that long – so you can dive a long time here even though it’s initially deep.  There is so much stuff in the shallows, it’s fantastic.  But then, all of Bonaire is like that!  no need to go deep, for the most part.

A big tarpon wanders by.

The view from within the amidships hold.

Seeing a large vessel materialize out of the gloom is always a little creepy.  There’s something atavistically frightening about the thing looming towards you.

Rising up the adjacent reef wall, the upturned hull is just barely visible.

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